BANGKOK (TR) – Attired in a revealing white blouse and short pants, she didn’t appear to be a 62-year-old woman, but, according to Fuji News Network (Apr. 6), she also didn’t claim to be one either.
In an interview with the network, the boyfriend of Setsuko Yamabe, who prior to her arrest last month was wanted in a lavish swindle involving dozens of victims in Japan, said that she told him she was 38 or 39 years old — just one facet to her seclusion from the authorities in Thailand.
“I called her ‘Eriko,'” said the man, a Thai national aged in his 30s. “She helped me. Because I quit my job at a host club, she gave me monthly expenses for my house.” He added that the suspect provided the equivalent of between 60,000 and 90,000 yen each month for the purchase of land and construction work.
In secluding herself in Thailand, she posed as a traveler, her boyfriend said, adding that he didn’t know she was on the run. She told him that she wasn’t working, only saying that her family worked in Japan. “She didn’t talk about her personal life,” the man said in separate report for Fuji News Network (Apr. 7).
“The Bridge Loan Queen”
In January, Kumamoto Prefectural Police issued an arrest warrant for Yamabe on suspicion of investment fraud. Yamabe and her accomplices are suspected of defrauding more than 50 persons, at least one of whom committed suicide, in fraudulently obtaining at least 700 million yen over the past few years.
In carrying out the ruse, she told the victims that she was involved in “bridge loans,” which are often used for short-term financing by large companies. She had claimed to pay the supposed investors interest of 25 percent for investments in which the principal was guaranteed.
On March 30, Thai police arrested Yamabe, who was wearing the aforementioned skimpy outfit, at a gasoline station in the northeastern province of Ubon Ratchathani for immigration violations.
According to a previous report, Yamabe had traveled into and out of Thailand at least 15 times. In announcing her arrest on April 5 in Bangkok, Thai police referred to her as “The Bridge Loan Queen.” She is expected to be taken back to Japan by police later this month.
Yamabe is a native of Kumamoto Prefecture, where she maintains an opulent residence valued at around 100 million yen.
Among the locals, she is known for her ostentatious appearance, always driving around in a luxury foreign automobile, including a Jaguar, according to an acquaintance. She married at the age of 20, but divorced after having two children.
An acquaintance tells the network that Yamabe is quite skilled at manipulating men. “In the past, different men, one after another, came and went,” says the acquaintance.
“I am also a victim”
Considering that Yamabe was living with her boyfriend, such skills may be have been of assistance in her seclusion in Thailand.
Thai police suspect that the money paid to the suspect’s boyfriend came in part from funds obtained in the alleged fraud, according to TV Asahi (Apr. 5). After meeting with Thai police following her arrest, Yamabe denied the accusation, saying “I am also a victim.”